Transient spine expansion and learning-induced plasticity in layer 1 primary motor cortex

Kimberly J. Harms, Mengia S. Rioult-Pedotti, D. Rosy Carter, Anna Dunaevsky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

54 Scopus citations

Abstract

Experience-dependent regulation of synaptic strength in the horizontal connections in layer 1 of the primary motor cortex is likely to play an important role in motor learning. Dendritic spines, the primary sites of excitatory synapses in the brain, are known to change shape in response to various experimental stimuli. We used a rat motor learning model to examine connection strength via field recordings in slices and confocal imaging of labeled spines to explore changes induced solely by learning a simple motor task. We report that motor learning increases response size, while transiently occluding long-term potentiation (LTP) and increasing spine width in layer 1. This demonstrates learning-induced changes in behavior, synaptic responses, and structure in the same animal, suggesting that an LTP-like process in the motor cortex mediates the initial learning of a skilled task.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5686-5690
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Volume28
Issue number22
DOIs
StatePublished - May 28 2008

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Keywords

  • Dendritic spines
  • Field potentials
  • LTP
  • Layer 1
  • Learning
  • Motor cortex

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

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